Borderlands 2’s Ellie opposes female gaming stereotype

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 04:01 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The tough-as-nails Ellie is Gearbox’s attempt to include a female character who goes against the usual tropes of video game design.

Ellie, daughter of Moxxi and sister to Scooter, introduces the Bandit Technical vehicle. In a written response to PC Gamer, Gearbox staff said her unusual design is very much intended.

“The narrative goal with Ellie was to have a character who hits all of the tick marks of a good Borderlands character (funny, unexpected, looks as if they could probably kill you in thirteen different ways if you got on their bad side), while also making an independent female character who looked the exact opposite of how most females tend to be represented in games,” the developer said.

“We also wanted to make sure that, through her dialog and visual design, we never cast her in a light where the player is encouraged to pity, laugh at, or mock her because she doesn’t look like Jessica Rabbit.”

Gearbox ran through several designs before hitting on Ellie’s current incarnation, including a very short mechanic, a two-headed effort, and a purely muscular version which felt “too abrasive and bandit-y”. Choosing a softer outline helped cement Ellie’s unique “silhouette and style” but also offered unlooked for challenges in animation and stance; hit the link above for more details and some work-in-progress images.

“She does straight-up murder a dude in a really gory way less than ten seconds after you meet her,” Gearbox said of the character. Nice.

Borderlands 2 releases on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September.